Spring Fling: Cocktails and Entertaining in 2021

By: Claire Friday (with additional contributions from Christopher Militello and Brielle Galekovic)

Photography credits: Bryan Hainer and Marisa Trujillo

Spring has sprung, and there’s no better way to celebrate the change of seasons, the beginning of sustained warmth from the sun, and the progression of 2021 than with a refreshing cocktail and the company of your most cherished people. Whether you’re ready to go out and have drinks with friends, or continue to entertain at home, there are options.

Las Vegas’ own Chris Militello, Beverage Director of Monzú Italian Oven and Bar, and On-Air Lifestyle Expert, Brielle Galekovic (aka. The Gilded Bellini) have you covered when it comes to easy tips for what to order at your favorite bar this spring, or how to have an enjoyable experience entertaining at home.

If you’re ready to emerge from your home, and you’re in the mood for a drink, you can always ask the bartender at your local watering hole for a refreshing spritz if you can’t decide what cocktail to order to pair with the spring weather. Not sure what type of spritz you’re in the mood for? No problem! Chris Militello has you covered. If you’re leaning towards a cocktail or mocktail, here are some great recipes straight from the bartender for foolproof beverages that are both simple to make and delicious to enjoy. These are so easy to assemble that you can even concoct them at home if you’re feeling like staying in.

The typical recipe of any spritz is a 3/2/1 ratio. 3 ounces Prosecco, 2 ounces liquor, 1 ounce soda water. Build all ingredients directly into the glass and gently stir. Add a garnish and enjoy!

There is a spritz for everybody! Whether you like something sweet, herbal, or somewhere in between you can have something that’s light and refreshing to enjoy as the weather warms up.

If you like something sweet, try the Hugo spritz. The Hugo spritz is a drink that originates in South Tyrol, Italy and is popular throughout the alps (Austria, Switzerland, Northern Italy). The liquor in the Hugo spritz is Elderflower, which has a subtle floral taste and is typically slightly sweet.

If you want something that is more herbal, slightly bitter and yet still refreshing try a Cynar spritz. Cynar is famously made with artichokes, but also has 13 other herbs and spices to round out its complex flavor. This one is my personal favorite.

The classic spritz is the Aperol Spritz, and this falls somewhere in the middle of the other two. Aperol is a bittersweet orange liquor and is by far the most popular of the three. Summertime all throughout Europe you can see glasses full of the orange liquor, as well as on the Las Vegas Strip.

Another easy drink to make would be a Paloma for your friends who don’t want too much alcohol. It is low-abv which means it is lower in alcohol volume. For this cocktail, use 2 ounces of tequila, and fill the glass with Grapefuit Soda like the Fever Tree Sparkling Grapefruit. This is my go-to easy pool time drink.

And for your friend who needs to stay sober, make a virgin mimosa! Mimosas are simply sparkling wine and orange juice. To make it a virgin drink, just change the sparkling wine to sparkling water or club soda.

Now that we have the most important part of the spring celebration covered, it’s time to cover the details and entertaining if you’re the stay-at-home type. If you’re not comfortable having guests over, you can always celebrate with your close family or show off your fancy drink presentation in a virtual happy hour.

 

Whichever way you choose, Brielle Galekovic (aka. The Gilded Bellini) has some simple tips to elevate your drink of choice if you are staying in; or ways to show off your entertaining skills to your circle of friends and family whether in person or at a distance:

It’s all about the drink details. You obviously want to be a good host! When working together, tiny elements contribute to the big ‘wow’ factor when you make your guests their favorite drinks. If you prep all the ingredients for your presentation, it ensures that you have all of the right elements together when your guests arrive. Perhaps it’s personalized linen napkins, sparkling geode coasters matching your color palette, or mini champagne bottles as place holders to name a few. But one of the most important things to remember is to make sure you also give yourself enough time for the prep and set-up. You don’t want to be rushed before it’s party time. Making the time to get everything organized is part of taking care of the details for your party. And speaking of those details, everything from your garnishes, ingredients and glasses should be placed in their own areas and lined up for easy access so it really feels like you’ve become your own bartender at home. Your guests will be impressed! Even if you’re in the mood to sip on something without having guests over, you can still use these tips to create your very own custom drink. Your cocktail emulating fancy qualities will make you feel as if you’re at a real bar right at home.

 

Presentation is key. If you want to impress your guests at home, it’s all about the set-up presentation. Arrange your drink mixers, juices, garnishes and ingredients in separate glasses or mason jars for a more refined feel. Get rid of any labels or extraneous packaging. You want the mood to be fresh and inviting. Think simple, crisp and clean. You can even add a few floral arrangements where your drinks are stationed. Make the presentation stand out. Stylish glassware can even serve as a conversation piece. If you’re searching for some flair in your glassware presentation, go for glasses with gold-rims, ribbing, unique dents on both sides (to give the illusion of finger indentations), or even pieces with a stately sham bottom. If you don’t know what to look for, go to your local home store and ask for recommendations!

Garnishes are worth the extra effort to elevate the drinks! Play up the garnishes on your drink to make them stand out and look creative. Part of all the fun in going out and getting drinks at a bar is that your drinks come to you embellished with an unexpected, aesthetically pleasing garnish. When you adorn your drinks at home with a little something extra, it really elevates the drinking experience. Edible flowers, candied ginger, or fresh sprigs of savory herbs are simple ingredients to always have on hand. These are so easy to pick up at Trader Joe’s or your local grocery store. Herbs can also be picked up at Home Depot. Pro tip: If you are able to plant it, you can have garnishes readily available to you at all times! Want to take it a step further? Match your garnishes with your attire or the color scheme of your event to make for Instagram-worthy photos! Your guests may want to post, too!